Home » Health » Travelling with Babies: Avoiding Ear Pain


As an adult it is common to experience ear pain due to pressure differences but adults can take action to relieve and release the pressure. Babies don’t have this luxury, so follow our tips for avoiding ear pain on your next flight.

cc licence flickr photo by pixellou

Where the Problem Begins

A good way to help prevent ear pain on your flights is to know the root of the problem. The main tube of our ears is called the Eustachian tube – and in babies they are much shorter and horizontal than in adults making them more prone to ear pain. Fluid can more easily be trapped within the inner ear resulting in the tissue around it becoming inflamed.

If your baby has a cold or even slight congestion, this can make it harder for your ears to regulate pressure in the inner ear; as we know, the pressure on flights is constantly changing.

Consult your Doctor

It is a good idea to speak to your baby’s doctor prior to going away. Even if they seem perfectly well it is important that your doctor gives them a quick check up to ensure they haven’t got any congestion that can put them at a higher risk of ear pain.

Congestion is easily remedied with antibiotics or over-the-counter medicine and can mean you have a much more pleasant flight. If your child is too heavily congested or has a bad cold, your doctor may advise that you delay your holidays until they are better.

Preventing Ear Pain

The best way to deal with ear pain is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Keep yours and your baby’s hands clean – using a water-free hand wash on a regular basis is a good idea to prevent the spread of bacteria.

At least a few days before your flights try to limit your child’s intake of saturated fat and sugar and ensure they drink plenty of water to wash out any toxins in their body. Increasing their intake of fruit and vegetables will help to boost their immune system before you leave – multivitamins can also help if your doctor thinks they are suitable.

Your baby may struggle to get a good night’s sleep, particularly if the flight is interrupting their normal sleep schedule. Therefore it is important that they get plenty of sleep before you leave to help rejuvenate the body and make it less susceptible to infections.

Easing Ear Pain

If you have taken all of the precautionary measures and your baby still has ear pain on the flight – there are ways that you can help ease the pain.

Drinking lots of water or other decaffeinated fluids are the easiest way to help cure in-flight ear pain as it helps to encourage swallowing. It is also much easier for the Eustachian tubes to become blocked onboard as the air is very dry – which water can help prevent.

Taking an ibuprofen tablet half an hour before take-off and landing can help ease potential ear pain. However, speak with your doctor to get advice on whether ibuprofen is safe for your baby.

Making your baby yawn will help with ear pain – as will giving them a pacifier.

by Richard Greenwood whose love for travel has taken him through much of  Asia, Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Through Flight Centre Australia find cheap domestic and international flights to Seoul in the East to San Francisco in the west

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